The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Friday said it rejected 14 invalid submitted nominations by political parties for the Nov. 16 governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa.
Mr Festus Okoye, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee, in a statement issued in Abuja also disclosed that 19 political parties willingly withdrew their nominations for the elections.
Okoye said that out of the 14 rejected invalid nominations, eight were from Kogi, six nominations were also rejected from Bayelsa.
He said that at the close of nomination 23 political parties would be contesting in Kogi as 18 parties withdrew from the race, while in Bayelsa one party withdrew leaving 45 political parties to contest the state election.
“At the close of the time stipulated by sections 31, 33 and 35 of Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) for the submission of the names of nominated candidates, 49 nominations were received for Kogi.
“Out of these, 41 nominations were valid, while eight were invalid. Subsequently, 18 political parties withdrew from contesting the elections.
”Therefore, 23 political parties will contest the governorship election in Kogi.
“For Bayelsa, a total of 52 nominations were received. Out of these, 46 were valid, while six were invalid.
“One political party has since withdrawn from the contest, leaving a total of 45 political parties to contest the governorship election in Bayelsa.’’
Okoye recalled that INEC monitored the primaries conducted for nomination of candidates for the two states, in which it on Sept. 12, informed the public that 64 political parties conducted primaries in Bayelsa and 59 in Kogi.
“Out of these, 52 political parties for Bayelsa and 49 for Kogi respectively, submitted the list and personal particulars of their candidates at the close of nomination on Sept. 9.’’
He said that INEC also made public its preliminary review of the list and personal particulars submitted by the parties at the close of nomination.
Okoye said that the commission then disclosed that some of the nominated candidates for governorship and deputy were below the minimum age prescribed by the constitution and that the commission was considering further action.
He added that by a letter dated Sept. 13, the commission notified the concerned political parties of the invalidity of their nominations.
“In Bayelsa, six of the nominated governorship and/or deputy governorship candidates were affected, while in Kogi, there were eight such nominees.
“Some of the affected parties have written the commission admitting their error and requesting to submit new nominees to replace the underaged ones.
“However, this was after the deadline for submission of nominations on Sept. 9. As such the commission could not accept any fresh nomination.
”Since the parties did not submit valid nominations before the deadline, they cannot substitute the candidates on the grounds of death or voluntary withdrawal, in accordance with the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), which assumes the prior existence of valid nominations.’’
Okoye said that the public might recall that just before the 2019 general elections, the INEC had cause to draw the attention of political parties to the same problem of nominating underaged candidates.
“That communication was a notice to the parties that future violation of such a basic provision of the constitution would be unacceptable and could lead to severe consequences.
“Accordingly, the commission has informed the affected parties that their names and logos will not appear on the ballots for the Bayelsa and Kogi governorship elections due to the invalidity of their nominations,” he said.
He said that in compliance with Section 34 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), the full names and addresses of all candidates standing nominated would be published in the relevant offices on Sept. 30.
He added that it would also be made available on INEC website.
Findings by News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) and available information in particulars of the candidates published in INEC offices in the two states revealed that the rejected nominations in Kogi were Action Peoples Party (APP) and Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) for nominating underage candidates of 34 years and 31years respectively.
Also rejected were Alliance National Party (ANP) which nominated underage deputy candidates of 32 years, Alliance Peoples Movement (APM) 30, Alliance of Social Democrats (ASD) 33 and APP -34.
Others were Movement for the Restoration of Nigeria (MRDD) 33 years, Social Democratic Party (SDP) 34 years and United Progressives Party (UPP) 33 years.
In Bayelsa Bayelsa, Peoples Democratic Change (DPC) and SDP were also rejected for nominating governorship candidates of age 30years and 31 years respectively.
Also in the state were Peoples Party of Nigeria (PPN) with nominated deputy candidate of age 27 years, Rebuild-Nigeria Party (PPN) 32years SDP 31 years and Young Progressives Party (YPP) 34 years.